October 2019

09107 approaches Waterworks Crossing with a service for Hampton Loade on the 5th October 2019. By Ian Murray

Welcome to your October edition of Express Points 

As we publish, the Autumn Diesel Gala draws to a conclusion and there’s a short breathing space before things really get going for the festive season.  This month, we’re starting to look ahead to what’s happening at the SVR next year, when we’ll be celebrating 50 years of running as a preserved line. There’s a special appeal for you to get in touch with your memories of what the SVR has meant to you over the years. We report on how Network Rail employees have been lending a hand at the SVR, and we’ve news of an exciting Pendolino nameplate auction, proceeds from which will benefit the SVR Charitable Trust and the Kidderminster Railway Museum.  And a host of other updates and articles from all across the wonderful Severn Valley Railway. Grateful thanks to Patrick Hearn, who has given his help in compiling this edition of Express Points. 

 

If something interesting is happening where you are on the Railway, drop us a line at ExpressPoints@svrlive.com  so we can let others know. Please include a photograph as well.  

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Express Points is the e-newsletter for SVR working members, and if you’d like to subscribe, please send your name and SVR department to ExpressPoints@svrlive.com .​ 

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Our sister publication Branch Lines is the e-newsletter for SVR supporters, shareholders, members and anyone with a keen interest in Railway operations. To subscribe to Branch Lines, please email BranchLines@svrlive.com 

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Don't forget there’s a monthly draw by the VLO for Working Members every month, to win a £20 voucher to spend on the Railway. Check if you are the lucky winner here. 

 

Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors

Picture by David Cooke

Celebrating 50 years of running on the SVR 

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the SVR’s first service as a preserved railway. In 2015 we celebrated saving the line and our founding members, and next year will be about celebrating what the SVR has meant to the local community, our passengers and volunteers over the last five decades. It’s also an opportunity to look to the future and engage younger generations. During 2020, a marketing campaign will highlight: 

 

  • What the SVR means to you: we want to contact passengers who travelled with us on May 23rd 1970 to see if they’ve continued to visit, and to tell us how the SVR has been a part of their life. We also want to find where the Railway fits into the life of our everyday passenger. We’ll talk to new volunteers on why they choose to give their time to the SVR, and to those who were there at the start and are still here 50+ years later. Can we find a couple who met and married on the Railway? 

 

  • Generations: we want to celebrate families who have been brought up on the Railway, looking at what it means to them. How many generations of a particular family have travelled on Santa Specials? Why do they keep coming back? What is so special about the place? 

 

Look out for other features including memory scrapbooks, local community partnerships (linking events, the SVR’s impact on local towns and business), our role in the heritage railway industry, our progress as a railway attraction, and how we manage our carbon offset. 

 

Lewis Maddox is co-ordinating the 50th Anniversary Campaign and would like as many contributions as possible: 

 

“I'd really like the campaign to feel personal, creating empathy. After all, the Railway conjures up emotion every day (the sound, smell, sight) and I want to shout about this. I want people who have never heard of the SVR to share our burning passion for the Railway and fall in love on their first visit. Like me, I am sure you want to shout about this, so if you have anything to contribute, please let me know: lewis.maddox@svrlive.com.” 

 

Photo of 3205, the first train out of Bridgnorth on 23rd May 1970

2020 - a year of exciting events at the SVR 

Building on the recent success of 2019’s ‘A Very British Summer’, the SVR will be concentrating on railway nostalgia next year. Trains will be central to each event plan, with Railway-appropriate activities taking place. To ease the burden on volunteers, we have reduced the number of events in the calendar, and their demands on the workforce.  Here are the dates for your diary: 

 

Ding ding! – Model trams at The Engine House, February 15th-23rd 

With trains running between Bewdley and Bridgnorth only, we’re bringing an added attraction to The Engine House; the Manchester Model Trams. 

Full line service resumes - Easter Holidays, April 4th-19th 

Our first Falling Sands Viaduct event will take place on April 4; to coincide with the reopening of the line. We’ll host a re-enactment of the opening with Victorian actors, fun family friendly activities and more. Expanding on this single day, the Easter Holidays will be a traditional Victorian Easter. 

Back with a bang – Spring Steam Gala, April 16th-19th 

Running in an all-new four day format, the Spring Steam Gala will see up to three star visiting engines and the launch of the Charitable Trust’s Stove-R. The move into April will allow us to run trains later in the evening and we should benefit from better weather – no snowstorms please! 

Little engines rule - Open House Weekend, May 2nd & 3rd 

Open House Weekend moves into May, with model railways in The Engine House at Highley and Kidderminster Diesel Depot, and a number of areas to peep behind the scenes. 

The BIG diesel bash - Spring Diesel Festival, May 14th-17th 

The Spring Diesel Festival continues to prove popular, so with our sights firmly set on increasing passenger numbers and revenue, the event will continue into Sunday. 

Long live the SVR – 50th Anniversary of running, May 23rd-25th 

May 23rd 1970 was the first day the SVR ran trains, and in 2020, we’ll mark this important anniversary with a commemorative event to celebrate the past, and more importantly, the future of the SVR. The event will concentrate on Bridgnorth, Eardington and Hampton Loade - a full event proposal is being drawn up; it promises to be very exciting! 

Getting hands on – Young Steam Engineers, May 23rd-31st 

Whilst the first few days of half-term will focus on May 1970, the rest of the holiday will celebrate the future; the younger generations! 

Glad rags at the ready - Step Back to the 1940s, June 27th, 28th & July 4th, 5th 

We step into the Wartime Britain once again! 

Building on success! – A Very British Summer, July 18th-September 6th 

Following the success of the 2019 campaign, summer 2020 will revisit A Very British Summer with an updated itinerary of attractions, linking in with the 50th marketing campaign. 

Traction engines galore – Steam on the Road, August 8th & 9th 

Steam-powered vehicles will return to Kidderminster Station in 2020, with an expansion along the line with gatherings of other types of vehicle; tractors, motorcycles etc. 

The wheels on the bus – On The Buses, September 5th 

On The Buses in 2020 will not take place at Bewdley, so the main displays will move to Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, with rides from both stations. 

All vehicles great and small – Classic Car Day, September 6th 

Working alongside the Italian AutoMoto Club, Classic Car Day moves back to a Sunday, and the event extends into Bridgnorth town. The event will run in much the same way as 2019, with vehicles at every Station, but with the added attraction of moving exhibits. 

Back to the future – Autumn Steam Gala, September 17th-20th 

Continuing the 50th anniversary theme, all the much-loved Autumn Steam Gala features will return, with overnight running, goods train etc, and some rather nostalgic visiting engines. 

Spotlight on the home-fleet – Autumn Diesel Gala, October 1st-4th 

We’re expecting this year’s event to be a success, so the we’ll be looking at the same in 2020. 

Do you dare to take a ride? – Ghost Trains, October 29th-31st 

It’ll be business as usual for the sell-out Ghost Trains, with three trains running per night, taking passengers on a spooky ride to Arley and back. 

Gifts galore – Christmas Gift Fayre, November 14th & 15th 

Gifts galore with a festive twist at The Engine House, running to a similar format to 2019’s planned event. 

The most wonderful time of the year – Christmas services, December 

Steam in Lights, Santa Specials and lots more in late November and December. We’ll see how this year goes! 

Autumn Diesel Gala photos 

And hot from this week’s Diesel Gala, you’ll find another gallery of images kindly sent in by a number of photographers, including this photo by J Hood of 50033 and 40106 meeting at Highley as Glorious shunts its stock. 

Autumn Steam Gala – some alternative views 

The photographers were out in force for the Autumn Steam Gala last month, and many were kind enough to send examples of their work to the svrlive website.  A selection of ‘less usual’ views of the Railway from more than 20 contributors is included at www.svrlive.com .

 

Here’s one to whet your appetite from Robert Batty who explains, “This was early on Saturday morning, just as the sun had started to warm the air up, but as you can see, the air was still a little cold for some.” 

Can you help get the SVR in the festive spirit? 

The festive season is without doubt the SVR’s prime income generator. However, it requires lots of volunteer help to set up and run, from mid-October right through to Christmas. Any time you can give will be much appreciated, but you need to step up now and volunteer! 

The appeal is out for volunteers to organise presents, decorate trains, set up and decorate stations and to help run the Santa Specials, Christmas Carol and Steam in Lights services. 

Please contact one of the event team below to offer your services – there will be a job made for you! 

Lewis.maddox@svrlive.com (event co-ordinator) 

Diane.malyon@svrlive.com (Santa event organiser) 

Dave.bratton@svrlive.com (Carol Train co-ordinator) 

Or contact the stationmaster of the station where you would like to help. 

Recreating the past at Eardington   

Eardington Halt welcomed record numbers of visitors during the Autumn Steam Gala, despite the fact that no trains stopped there. People came to see the volunteer team’s careful attempts to ‘recreate’ some of the very limited number of photographs that exist of the tiny station from before the 1960s. The challenge for the team was to bring the black and white photos to life in living colour, as Steve Downs explains:  

 

“We tried to match the original signage where possible. The Wailing Wall gang at Bridgnorth helped us with materials, including the old bar door from the Railwayman's Arms, which we stripped for plywood.  Hampton Loade lent us a notice board, Steve Dockerty supplied period posters, and a volunteer paid for three replica enamel signs, made by local company Kyoti Graphics. These were used to recreate exactly the signage on display in 1910. 

  

“The re-enactments were a lot of fun to do and created a great deal of interest, with almost zero financial outlay. Our visitor numbers on the Thursday and Friday of the gala set records for us, but Saturday was something else, possibly the busiest we've ever been. We were turning folks away most of the day and our little car park was bursting at the seams. Our volunteers rose to the occasion and did a magnificent job keeping everyone happy. We also sold a mountain of homemade cake!” 

Bridgnorth MPD is in a mellow mood 

Volunteer shed master Martin White writes from Bridgnorth, where he’s obviously been reading a bit of poetry! 

 

So, here we are in the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ (from To Autumn, by John Keats, in case you were wondering.) The September Gala has been and gone and the midweek running season has ended. We have a few weeks respite from seven-days-a-week operation with just weekend running and the odd footplate experience train before things pick up again at half term, and Halloween, and then Santa trains and Steam in Lights. 

 

This short period of respite will allow a couple of significant and important jobs to be undertaken by the running maintenance and boiler shop teams at Bridgnorth. Top of the list is the annual boiler insurance examination on 34027 ‘Taw Valley’. Firstly, a cold exam, with the boiler drained down and washed out, and smokebox and firebox cleaned thoroughly and then subsequently a hot, in steam exam. It’s rather like a car MOT, in that it’s illegal to operate the loco without annual boiler insurance approval. 

 

The second major task for the maintenance team is a valve and piston exam on 1501. Many readers, not just from the loco dept, will have heard the loco emitting odd noises and uneven beats this season which need to be rectified. In addition to sounding odd, the loco is consuming more water than it should and is a little lacking in performance, but not excessively so, due to these valve issues. In addition to the valves and pistons, some of the motion requires attention, especially the big ends and side rods. The day after the September gala, work commenced in stripping the loco, removing the valve and cylinder covers, the valves themselves and side rods, etc. Measurements were taken to ascertain what work and replacements are required and requests were made to Bridgnorth pattern shop for them to make some wooden patterns that the foundry will use to make the moulds for the casting of new bushes. These were quickly provided and sent off to the foundry for quotations. 

 

So, if 34027 or 1501 are your favourites and you are wondering why you’ve not seen them recently, there are good reasons for their absence. 

 

Other work is scheduled to take place on 43106. Some routine activity such as brake block changes, but also more longstanding issues, for example the driver’s brake valve, which is undergoing detailed investigation into an irregular application. 

 

Finally, it has been suggested that these notes may be resulting in an increased curiosity amongst SVR volunteers about Bridgnorth MPD and works, especially since these areas are generally off limits. Thus, if you and your colleagues, from your station or your department on SVR, would like to know more about what’s going on, please feel free to contact me. If you have time to spare at a weekend and would be interested in a guided tour around Bridgnorth MPD and workshop, we may be able to arrange this for small groups at a mutually convenient time. 

 

Photo: 1501 undergoing V&P work in Bridgnorth works with the valves and pistons having been removed. The valves are on the bench in the foreground. 

Dusk falls on Bridgnorth 

Thanks to Mike Catton for sending us these photographs he took at Bridgnorth a couple of weeks ago, just as dusk was falling.  Mike is a volunteer in Carriage & Wagon at Kidderminster. 

Erlestoke Manor overhaul makes progress  

The Erlestoke Manor Fund recently posted a comprehensive update of the work being carried out on 7812 at Tyseley Locomotive Work. The update contains a wealth of photographs, including this one by Adrian Hassell showing part of the boiler which is currently awaiting a visit from the specialist copper welder for lap joint repairs. Erlestoke Manor's 10 year boiler ticket expired at the end of 2017 and she moved to Tyseley for overhaul to commence in January 2018.  

 

Photo by Adrian Hassell 

Falling Sands artwork exhibition 

As part of the Falling Sands Viaduct educational activities programme, children from Sutton Park Community School in Kidderminster have created artwork based on the viaduct. The paintings will be on show at The Engine House, Highley during October and November. The pictures were painted following a trip to the site of the viaduct in Kidderminster, when the pupils discovered how the Victorians built the seven-arched structure, and how children of their own age were expected to work alongside adults.  

 

A dedicated Falling Sands website goes live on Tuesday 8th October, with all the latest updates on both the restoration work to the viaduct and the associated events, exhibitions and educational activities. Find it at www.fallingsandsviaduct.org.uk 

Fancy a genuine piece of modern railway history? 

If you visited this weekend’s Diesel Gala, you might have spotted an impressive collection of Pendolino nameplates on display in the Kidderminster Railway Museum.  These are fresh off the set, and have been donated to raise funds by the lovely people at Virgin Trains. 

The plates are being auctioned in support of the SVR Charitable Trust and Kidderminster Railway Museum. With Virgin due to hand over the keys for their west coast route to First Trenitalia in December, there’s never been a better time to bag yourself a much sought-after railway artefact.  There are also five nose cone plates on offer. 

The nameplates and cone plates, all in a ‘weathered’ condition, have come straight off the set of Class 390s. The following plates are available: 

City of Birmingham 

City of Carlisle   

City of Liverpool 

City of Stoke-on-Trent 

City of Preston 

Virgin Buccaneer 

Virgin Difference 

Virgin Glory 

Virgin King 

Virgin Invader 

Virgin Quest 

 

To be in with a chance, simply send a sealed bid to nameplates@virgintrains.co.uk with your name, address, the plate(s) you’re bidding on, and your offer price. Maximum of three bids per person, and there’s a reserve price of £500 on each plate. The auction closes at 5pm on 14 October and winners will be notified the following week.   

 

Photo: Richard Stanton of Virgin Trains with Richard Shaw of the Coalyard Miniature Railway and a sizeable collection of Pendolino nameplates 

Improved baby changing facilities on trains  

Our photo shows Hugh McQuade of Carriage & Wagon fitting a new baby changing unit on board 80776, one of the most recent carriages to emerge from an extensive overhaul and refurbishment.  This brings the SVR’s total ‘baby-friendly’ carriages to four – all funded by the SVR Charitable Trust. If you work in an on-train role, it’s worth knowing which sets contain the baby change units, so you can point passengers in the right direction, as Hugh points out: 

 

“Three years ago, 24105 was fitted out as part of the teak set. Recently 4399’s restoration has been completed and this will soon join set C. And there’s 4690 from set M, which is currently having a repaint in the workshop.  

 

“All four are wheelchair accessible coaches with more spacious toilet facilities.  These mean our restorers can fit in the fold-down baby units.” 

  

80776’s restoration was funded by generous donations to the SVR Charitable Trust. To help restore further carriage, please donate at www.svrtrust.org.uk 

In memoriam  

Pete Simpson 

Sadly we have lost one of our very helpful and supportive group members. Pete was a quiet and unassuming person but had considerable knowledge and great skill in technical drawing. Some of his most useful drawings included the final arrangement drawing for our Gresley Brake Third 24506. We were able to use Pete’s drawing to show progress on the sponsorship for the 110 outside teak panels and 600 feet of teak beading – all of which gained sponsorship from numerous generous individuals. Our condolences go to Pete’s family. LNER Carriage Restoration Team  

Network Rail staff lend a hand at the SVR 

A team of volunteers from Network Rail caused quite a stir in late September when they spent a day at Highley taming the vegetation on the embankment and pathways around The Engine House. The visit was arranged by Keith Brown, our volunteer permanent way administrator, who said, “This is the second time Network Rail have had a volunteering day with us. It’s certainly been hard work, and everyone has pitched in with lots of enthusiasm. We’ve also valued this opportunity to get to know colleagues from another train operating company and have built connections that will be valuable in the future. We are very grateful for everyone’s time, energy and dedication.” 

 

Mike Black of Network Rail added, “We give our staff five days off to volunteer for good causes, so they get the pleasure of directly helping and making a difference. It offers a great opportunity to team-build and allows our office-based colleagues to experience the challenges that Network Rail’s front line staff face. This should help them understand the impact that their decisions make on the front line.” 

New book raises funds for Diesel Depot  

The latest publication from Chime Whistle would look great on any coffee table, but more importantly it gives  a fantastic insight into the people and the work that goes on in the SVR’s Diesel Depot. Entitled 'Kidderminster Diesel Depot: The Old Oak Common of preservation', it’s a beautiful 300-page, A4 hardback publication, packed with hundreds of colour photos on high quality art paper.  

 

Chime Whistle are generously donating £5 for each copy sold to the SVR Charitable Trust to fund diesel projects. Pre-orders are already coming in thick and fast – make sure to order yours at www.chimewhistle.co.uk  

Scary volunteers needed  

More volunteers are needed to create a blood curdling atmosphere at Arley station during our Ghost Train services.  If you can spare an evening, please contact lewis.maddox:svrlivecom or phone 01562 757910.   

 

Three Ghost Trains a night are running on 26th, 27th, 30th and 31st October. 

Strange, but true  

Peter Darkin writes to us from the SVR archive room at The Engine House, Highley, where he was looking through back copies of SVR News. 

 

“In edition No. 17 from summer 1970, I came across some notes on Bewdley station by J. Francis Parker.  One paragraph intrigued me: 

  

‘I can just remember seeing at Bewdley before the first world war one of the Wolverhampton saddle tanks encased in sheeting painted and panelled to represent a carriage.  This was one of four so treated for push and pull trains.  It was thought people might be nervous of an engine boiler in between two carriages!  The scheme caused difficulty with maintenance and was discontinued.’ 

  

“Curious, my first port of call was Wikipedia but this produced nothing nor did conversations with various other people who might have known.  Next I went to David Postle at the Kidderminster Railway Museum. He was unable to enlighten me although he said that the late J. Francis Parker was well-respected and very knowledgeable about all things Great Western. A few more dead ends before I contacted the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (RCTS) where their archivist Andy Davies came up trumps. 

 

“In August 1906 No. 2120 (2021 class) underwent a complete transformation at Swindon. In an effort to harmonise the locomotive with the carriages on push - pull trains the loco was fitted with short square tanks and completely clothed in a shell which from the outside looked like a coach body, complete with windows and fully lined out in carriage livery.  Two windows at the front looked in on the smokebox whilst the others looked on the tank. The roof ran from the front buffer beam to the rear with the chimney protruding and holes for the safety valves and to fill the tanks with water. The enclosed cab must have made conditions on the footplate extremely hot although the fitting of a full length roof would have been an improvement on the original half cab. Coaling must have been a nightmare. The four-coach auto trains were intended to operate in the Plymouth area so how one came to Bewdley is open to speculation. 

“No. 2140 was similarly transformed at Newton Abbott as were Nos. 533 and 833 of the ‘517 class 0-4-2T’s.  The dummy coachwork was removed at the end of 1911.” 

Thank you Peter – keep digging around in those archives! 

Update from the Wagon department at Bewdley 

Graham Phillips sends us this report: 

Work is progressing on four goods wagons at once at Bewdley, with the weather being the main deciding factor on whether it's the two inside or two outside the goods shed which get the focus of attention on any given day. 

 
The most conspicuous wagon at the moment is Regent tank 345 which was built in 1960 to carry 22 tons of aviation fuel. This is in a very good condition mechanically, so work consists mainly of a full repaint. 

 
Behind this is GWR 5 Plank Open 98480 of 1921. This is a much bigger project and will require replacement of all the bodywork timber and repairs to the underframe as well as the fabrication of new brake parts. 

 
Inside the goods shed is GWR Mink Covered Goods Van 101961 which has had a new canvas roof. Due to space restrictions, this had new doors and a repaint on one side only. It then went to Kidderminster for turning and is now back inside for the same treatment on the other side. 

 
Also inside is GWR Mica Refrigerated Meat Van 105873. This van is double-skin construction for insulation and unfortunately had suffered badly from dry rot due to dampness and lack of ventilation within the enclosed spaces. The main structure of the body is steel, which is in quite good condition, but much of the timber framework and planking is being replaced. 

The Wagon Department are also assisting with the cosmetic restoration of GWR 6 ton Hand Crane 446. This sat neglected at the Stourport Triangle for many years, but is now at Arley where it will make an interesting static display in the yard. 

 

Photos: (Graham Phillips) 

Regent Tank 345 in its all black livery awaiting signwriting with GWR Open 98480 behind. 

GWR Mica 105873 showing the new timbers bolted to the steel framework. 

GWR 6 Ton Hand Crane 446 at Arley. 

Urgent funding needed for GWR 9581 

The LNER Coach Fund volunteers are making good progress on their restoration of GWR 9581 at Bewdley, but Richard Hill says they urgently need more funds to take the project forward: 

“The SVR Charitable Trust owns this coach, and donations made via the Trust can attract a further 25% Gift Aid at no extra cost to the donor. For £100 you can ‘sponsor an inch’ and there are specific items available for sponsorship, such as roof vents (£150) and coach doors (£750). General donations of any amount are welcome at any time. A downloadable donation form is at: http://www.lnersvrcoachfund.org.uk/gwr9581-5043.html .” 

 

Project leader Richard Gunning explains what’s been happening in recent months: 

“The roof’s interior needs to be well insulated to avoid condensation. This means many coats of bitumen paint, then a generous layer of insulating fabric. One option being considered here is natural wool, which has excellent insulation qualities. 

 

“We’re fitting the interior ceiling ‘carlines’ and will then attach the decorative ceiling. The curved shape is achieved by gluing lengths of thin ply together within a ‘master’ former frame and allowing this to cure. The ceiling is also receiving the framework that will support the heavy water tanks to supply the buffet bar and the WC facilities. 

 

“And as you can see in the photo, we have made a start on the first coat of green body primer paint. 

 

“Ideally we’d like to equip GWR 9581 with sufficient electrical power to drive the lighting, water heating, a fridge and a couple of cool drawers for soft drinks. But that would be beyond the normal output of a conventional railway dynamo. That said, electric technology has progressed significantly in recent years, and some early thought is being given over whether hybrid car technology might have a modern-day application. Before the anguished cries of ‘never done by Swindon’ are heard, it was in fact developing Swindon and Wolverton thinking that led to this concept being applied to railway uses (eg in the BR Mark 2 coaches) and eventually to hybrid road vehicles.” 

What do you think about Kidderminster Town Hall?  

Kidderminster Town Hall has been the town’s focal point for over 150 years providing a venue for concerts, events and exhibitions.  It has also played an important role in the lives of the citizens of Kidderminster by as the home of the Register Office and the District Council Customer Services Hub. 

 

Kidderminster Town Council wants to open up the ground floor of the building and is seeking the views of SVR working members to help them decide how it could best be used. 

 

As an added incentive to complete their online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KthOnlinesurvey they’re offering entry to a prize draw for a family ticket to Cinderella, the Town Hall’s first pantomime. 

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